Category Archives: Christianity

Not Till Then

Alistair Begg carries so many poems, tunes, scriptures, hymns in his memory.  Today I heard this for the first time so had to find it in hymn form.  I like it a lot.

 

 

 

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Prayer for the Church

Gracious Father, we humbly ask on behalf of your Church. Fill it with all truth; and all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where is in need, furnish it; where it is divided and torn apart, unite it, O Holy One of Israel.
Archbishop William Laud

Thanks to Trevin Wax’s Prayer Room

Shine Upon Thy Work of Grace

Today our church began a series that is focused on the great themes of the Reformation: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone and Christ Alone.  Today, in worship we reminded ourselves of God’s amazing grace.  Our Prayer of Confession:

God of grace, we are reminded this morning that we are dust.  You know our “dustiness”-our character that is so fragile and easily disintegrates.  We bring our hearts and our souls to You this morning, trusting You to bring forgiveness and healing.  We confess that sometimes we simply don’t trust You with our lives and the lives of those we love.  We confess our unbelief of the promises in Your Word that Your grace really is sufficient for us.  We confess our sins, the times we have willingly gone against Your good will for our lives, choosing that which is wrong.  We confess that there are times we ignore the promptings of Your Spirit, and fail to do the good deeds You have prepared for us to do.  Forgive us, Lord, and continue to shape us by Your grace.  We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

We confessed our faith answering the Heidelberg Catechism’s question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”   The answer is probably my favorite in that catechism:

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.  He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.  He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.  Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

This poem of John Newton,  shared by Tim Challies, expresses, as only poetry can, what that grace really means:

’Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought;
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I His, or am I not?

If I love, why am I thus?
Why this dull and lifeless frame?
Hardly, sure, can they be worse,
Who have never heard His name!

Could my heart so hard remain,
Prayer a task and burden prove;
Every trifle give me pain,
If I knew a Savior’s love?

When I turn my eyes within,
All is dark, and vain, and wild;
Filled with unbelief and sin,
Can I deem myself a child?

If I pray, or hear, or read,
Sin is mixed with all I do;
You that love the Lord indeed,
Tell me: Is it thus with you?

Yet I mourn my stubborn will,
Find my sin a grief, and thrall;
Should I grieve for what I feel,
If I did not love at all?

Could I joy His saints to meet,
Choose the ways I once abhorred,
Find, at times, the promise sweet,
If I did not love the Lord?

Lord, decide the doubtful case!
Thou who art Thy people’s sun;
Shine upon Thy work of grace,
If it be indeed begun.

Let me love Thee more and more,
If I love at all, I pray;
If I have not loved before,
Help me to begin today.

Sure Provisions

Written by Isaac Watts in 1719, a paraphrase of Psalm 23, and the tune titled “Resignation” in Southern Harmony, and “Irwinton” in Sacred Harp.

My Shepherd will supply my need: Jehovah is His name:
In pastures fresh He makes me feed, Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back, When I forsake His ways;
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake, In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away.
Thy Hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows, Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode, And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home.

From the 2017 Sacred Harp Convention in Germany:

 

The Gospel: How We Have Been Rescued From Peril

I am nearly finished reading Alistair E. McGrath’s book, Reformation Thought.  So much of it reminds me of ongoing debate and confusion in the Christian Church today.  When we forget the “Solos” of the Reformation we easily slide into all sorts of false gospels.

Monergism, a site dedicated to Reformation theology and thought explains why their main goal is to promote salvation by Christ alone:

That salvation is His [Christ’s] gift for guilty sinners, not a reward for the righteous. The Bible and the gospel itself continually draw us back to message of Christ alone as our redemption. We do not contribute, even partly, to our right standing before God, but Jesus provides everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Ezek 36:26; John 6:63, 65, 37) . It is precisely here that is the focal point for which the church has battled throughout its history because the enemy would have us dilute the gospel with something other than, or in addition to, Jesus Christ.

 

One article answers the question “What do we mean by the ‘gospel’?”  (Excerpted from Timothy Keller’s book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City:

What do we mean by “the gospel”? Answering this question is a bit more complex than we often assume. Not everything the Bible teaches can be considered “the gospel” (although it can be argued that all biblical doctrine is necessary background for understanding the gospel). The gospel is a message about how we have been rescued from peril. The very word gospel has as its background a news report about some life-altering event that has already happened:

Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Luke 2:10, And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

 

….The gospel is “heraldic proclamation” before it is anything else (D.A. Carson, “What Is the Gospel? —Revisited,” in For the Fame of God’s Name, 158). It is news that creates a life of love, but the life of love is not itself the gospel. The gospel is not everything that we believe, do, or say. The gospel must primarily be understood as good news, and the news is not as much about what we must do as about what has been done. The gospel is preeminently a report about the work of Christ on our behalf — salvation accomplished for us. That’s how it is a gospel of grace.

 

And I find Keller’s note on a commonly heard aphorism instructive:

USE WORDS IF NECESSARY

The popular saying “Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” is helpful but also misleading. If the gospel were primarily about what we must do to be saved, it could be communicated as well by actions (to be imitated) as by words. But it the gospel is primarily about what God has done to save us, and how we can receive it through faith, it can only be expressed through words. Faith cannot come without hearing. This is why we read in Galatians 2:5 that heresy endangers the truth of the gospel, and why Philippians 1:16 declares that a person’s mind must be persuaded of the truth of the gospel. Ephesians 1:13 also asserts that the gospel is the word of truth. Ephesians 6:19 and Colossians 1:23 teach that we advance the gospel through verbal communication, particular preaching.]